Harford council approves appointments of Welch, Merchant, to Liquor Control Board

Glassman's appointments of two new liquor board members gets unanimous approval from Harford County Council

James Welch and Frederic Merchant, the newest appointees to the Harford County Liquor Control Board, have a clear path to taking their seats on the board next month after the Harford County Council unanimously approved their appointments Tuesday.

Merchant, who resides in Havre de Grace, was not at Tuesday's meeting when the council approved the liquor board appointments, along with appointments to seven other county government positions, boards and commissions.

Welch, who lives in Bel Air, did attend, and at the request of Council President Richard Slutzky, stood to be recognized.

"Thank you very much, sir, for your service, we appreciate it," Slutzky told Welch.

Welch thanked Slutzky in turn. He and Merchant were appointed by Harford County Executive Barry Glassman, who sent the appointments to Harford's legislative delegation in the Maryland Senate and the House of Delegates, and the local legislators approved both appointments.

With the blessing of the County Council in hand, Merchant and Welch are scheduled to take their seats on the five-member liquor board in April.

They are replacing Commissioner Tom Fidler and board Chair Michael Thomson, who have both been on the board since 2011. Thomson has chaired the board since 2015.

They were both eligible for reappointment, but Glassman appointed the two new members. They will be among four Glassman appointees, including Walter "Butch" Tilley III, who was appointed to his first term last year, and Sheryl Davis Kohl, the vice chair.

Glassman appointed Kohl to her first term in 2015.

C. John Sullivan Jr., whom Glassman reappointed in 2016, was appointed to his first term in 2013 by then-County Executive David Craig.

Liquor board members serve three-year terms and are paid $6,000 a year. The chair, who is selected by his or her colleagues, makes $7,000 a year.

Welch works in commercial real estate, and he has been a member of multiple boards and commissions for Harford County and the Town of Bel Air.

He has also served as a public relations director for Bel Air's economic development department.

Merchant is retired from the Army, and he works for SURVICE Engineering, of Belcamp. He is an active member of Mountain Christian Church in Joppa, where he is a deacon, and he is a member of the board for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Harford County.

County Council members also approved the appointments of people to the county's Commission on Disabilities, the Local Management Board, the Adult Public Guardianship Review Board, the Youth Commission, Harford County Community Mediation and the Cultural Arts Board.

The council's votes on all of those appointments were unanimous.

The council also unanimously approved Glassman's appointment of William Bettin as a deputy director of public works for the Water & Sewer Division.

Bettin, a resident of Bel Air, previously worked as a program manager for a consulting firm, and he spent 22 years in the Army, according to a Feb. 3 news release from the county government announcing his appointment to the public works position.

Bettin's Army career included five years as the director of environmental health engineering for the Public Health Command at Aberdeen Proving Ground, according to the release.

The appointment took effect Feb. 13, and Bettin served as an acting deputy director until getting formal approval from the County Council Tuesday.

Slutzky thanked Bettin, who was in the audience, for his service to the county.

"The pleasure is mine, thank you," Bettin replied.

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